Basis Of Marital Happiness
( Originally Published 1918 )
EVERY girl should realize, when she promises to marry a man, that she not only has accepted him as a lifelong companion, but that she has definitely agreed to enter into the closest physical relationship. In the olden days, when a girl was brought up in carefully shielded seclusion, taught that anything approaching intimacy with the opposite sex was unworthy of a true woman, and allowed to enter the state of matrimony without any elucidation of what that would mean to her, it is not to be wondered at that many young brides received such nervous and physical shocks during the first few weeks of married life that they never completely recovered from them. It is certainly most unfortunate to train a young woman throughout her childhood and girlhood in such a way that the normal experiences of womanhood become to her a source of mental conflict which all but ruins her whole life.
It is only very recently that we have begun to understand what effect such ever-present mental conflicts have upon the physical organism. Only those who have passed through them comprehend the intense suffering which they cause. Many a young woman has begun to run down in health immediately after marriage, not so much because her husband has made excessive demands upon her, as because she feels degraded every time she enters into the relationship' which should be to her the most sacred in life. The failing lies, not in the young people themselves, in many in-stances, but in the mistaken training which has been given them.
It is true that sometimes men are so carried away by the intensity of their own passion that they overwhelm the young bride with their demands upon her, expecting her to respond to their advances with a passion equal to their own.
As a rule, however, the normal young man is not so completely a victim of his own feelings as to be absolutely inconsiderate of the natural timidity and reluctance of a bride. The real lover waits upon every word and look and gesture of the beloved, and, by so doing, woos her gently to her full surrender.
In this matter, without doubt, many young men need to have made clear to them the difference between the woman's sex impulse and the man's. His responds with sudden force when once aroused. Hers is more like a rising tide which slowly gains the power needed to carry her out of herself into the realm of self-surrender. For this reason, the man should have patience and learn to exercise the arts of the lover.
On the other hand, however, the wife should not feel it incumbent upon her to resist his advances, to steel herself against any possible giving way to his blandishments. It is normal that their desire for the union of their souls should express itself, in appropriate moments of highest exaltation and desire, in a physical union. When the young wife views this relationship in its true light, she will no longer shrink from it in the disgust that sometimes threatens to wreck the life happiness of. a newly wedded pair. It is wise for her to exercise self-control and to influence her husband to the same end, but, at the same time, when she gives herself to him it should be in the fullest abandon of devotion and deepest love.
It has been well said that woman has a natural instinct in these matters, which, if she will but follow it, makes of her the true guardian and priestess of the temple of marriage. If she refuses herself to her husband at all times, however, she defeats the purpose of this instinct and renders him dissatisfied, eventually, it may be, bringing about a separation. If she gives herself to him so joyously as to bring fullest satisfaction at those times when her impulse leads her to do so, she will have but little difficulty in exercising the gentle powers of restraint at other times, when his tentative approach does not meet with the fullest response of her own nature.
No wife should feel that her husband has the right to control her body, and that she must resign herself to him whenever he makes a demand upon her. This is contrary to Nature. Through-out the living realm we see that it is the feminine nature which indicates the proper moments for union, and if a woman resigns herself to her husband in this way when her own impulses do not lead her in that direction, she is doing him a great injury. Where there is not a full response on her part there is not full satisfaction on his, and in time the relationship becomes a source of physical weakness to him which may in the end have serious consequences. Many a woman, with the mistaken notion that she is doing her duty to her husband by giving way to his every demand, has really proven untrue to her real responsibility toward him, and has, all unwittingly, been the means of encouraging him in such excesses as may eventually result in his impotence.
To the majority of wives no doubt the idea that they are the rightful arbiters in this matter of the intimacies of married life will be a new one.
They look upon their own desires as something concerning only themselves, and the majority of them therefore feel that these should give way to the husband's wishes. But when they learn that it is for his good that they should exercise this control they will look upon the matter differently.
They must understand that the life-giving fluid called the semen, which is produced in the creative organs of the man, is of great value in the upbuilding of his own body. It is only within comparatively recent times that the marvelous power of this creative fluid in building up and making over the body of the individual has been thoroughly understood. In sexual intimacies there is a discharge of this creative fluid from the body of the man, but where there is a full response on the part of the wife, there seems to be an exchange of magnetism or energy which makes up for the loss. If, however, his desire alone is active and she is simply fulfilling a sup-posed wifely duty, she gives nothing to him, and he, therefore, suffers a definite loss in vitality. It is claimed by some that such one-sided intimacies are almost as harmful to the man as masturbation. Frequent indulgence upon this basis must result in a loss of vital energy which will deprive the man of the strength and vigor needed for the performance of his life tasks.
Even when the wife gives fullest response it will not do to enter too frequently into this relationship. Anything approaching sexual excess must gradually have a devitalizing effect upon the constitution, which may make itself manifest through an increasing tendency toward some inherited weakness. Moreover, there is a great nervous strain associated with this experience, which causes eventually a sapping of the brain energy, rendering the man less mentally capable and efficient.
Like all other desires this also was meant to be under the control of the soul, and, as a woman's impulses are generally less intense than man's, it naturally becomes her place to exercise the art of control.
It sometimes happens that the woman can endure more frequent intercourse than can the man. Let her watch and see whether or not her husband seems to be somewhat lacking in vigor on the morning following his marital experience, and so learn whether or not she is stimulating him too greatly on this side of his nature. She can easily learn to satisfy his desire for affectionate demonstration without arousing his passion, and she should, for his sake, if not for her own, develop this art to its highest degree.
There are some at the present time, and the number may be increasing, who believe that the marriage relationship should be entered into only for the purpose of procreation. If the young woman possesses this belief, she owes it to her future husband to make her position in this matter perfectly plain to him, and to assure herself that his acquiescence in this plan will be voluntarily and fully, not grudgingly, given. If he does not also in his own heart believe as she does, their future relationship will be very taxing to him, because in all probability his sexual desires will be aroused, and, being unsatisfied, may be the cause of distress and even of physical weakness to him. There are those who seem to have proven that they can live together in the closest intimacy of married life, keeping their procreative powers for procreative purposes only, and who appear to experience no ill effects physically. These cases, however, are the exception and such relationship seems to call for individuals of an unusual development.